Category Peruvian

Peruvian Delights: Oakville’s Machu Picchu

Longing to take your taste buds on a culinary adventure? Oakville’s Machu Picchu serves delicious Peruvian and Latin fusion cuisine. Don’t let the industrial strip of Speers Road mislead you – discovering the food at Machu Picchu may be as delightful as discovering the cloud-shrouded, ancient Incan, mountaintop city it is named after. My Peruvian friend, Pilar, recently took us on an expedition there for a fun girls’ night out – and since then, we haven’t stopped talking about how good the food was.

Frothy and tangy Pisco Sours (Peruvian brandy, lime juice, simple syrup, egg white, and bitters) and other Latin cocktails are a great way to start off the evening. Toasted Peruvian corn, “cancha”, is a complimentary crunchy nibble served with drinks.


Peruvian cuisine has an Incan base, fused with Spanish, Basque, African, Japanese, Chinese, and Italian influences. Peru’s signature dish is ceviche. Machu Picchu offers several ceviches on their menu.

Machu Picchu’s Ceviche Mixto is utterly delectable: tender chunks of fresh shrimp, calamari, squid strips, and diced white fish cured in lime juice and Peruvian peppers and marinated in a sparkling dressing that is a delicious balance of tangy, spicy, and slightly sweet flavours with hits of fresh cilantro. Mouth-watering! Served with Peruvian corn (larger kernels), thinly sliced purple onion, luscious chunks of yam, and banana chips.


Photo thanks to Eleonora Roberts.

The aromas of the meat dishes passing by our table were so enticing that we shared Ceviche Mixto as a starter and ordered meat as an entrée. Seco de Carne is a slow-simmered stew with big chunks of fork-tender, full-flavoured beef in traditional Peruvian gravy laced with cilantro and beer. It’s served with nicely seasoned rice and delicious stewed beans.


Photo thanks to Eleonora Roberts

There is so much to choose from on Machu Picchu’s extensive menu. Perhaps the Lomito Saltado (marinated filet mignon sautéed with onions and peppers) that my friend said was really good? Or the beautiful Arroz con Mariscos (Peruvian-style seafood rice dish prepared with a mixture of Peruvian peppers) that Pilar enjoyed?


Photo thanks to Eleonora Roberts

Or Papa a la Huancaína (a traditional appetizer of sliced cold potatoes covered in a spicy cheese sauce)? Chupe de Camarones (shrimp chowder, only available Wednesdays through Sundays)? Or Chifa (Peruvian Chinese food served every Wednesday, starting July 16th)?

Go with an appetite for good food and fun: English and Latin karaoke on Friday nights, starting at 8:00 p.m. Live Latin music starts at 8:00 p.m. on Saturday nights.

There aren’t any Peruvian cookbooks on the shelves at my Indigo, which astonishes me because it is such a flavourful cuisine created by a culture that loves food and cooks from scratch. I have just started to follow a blog on Pinterest, Peru Delights; the recipes look so good. Can’t wait to try the Seco de Carne recipe. The authors (Morena Cuadra and Morena Escardo) have written a cookbook, The Everything Peruvian Cookbook, which is available on-line at Indigo and Amazon but I haven’t seen a hard copy yet. Check out my Grocery/Gourmet Store Directory under Grocery/Gourmet Markets/Ethnic/Latin American for a listing of Latin American markets in our region. Don’t be shy to ask questions; the owners would be more than happy to share their cooking tips. Of course, the best way to learn about Peruvian food is to make a Peruvian friend – they’ll enrich your life and your cooking!

Machu Picchu
1272 Speers Rd.
Oakville, ON
L6L 2X4
Telephone: (905) 847-2228
Check website for business hours.


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Happy Halloween: Papa a la Huancaína Soup

This mildly spiced cheese and potato soup is my twist on the classic Peruvian dish, Papa a la Huancaína (sliced cold potatoes covered in a spicy cheese sauce). My soup has just enough heat to gently warm your bones – but not enough heat to awaken the bones of the dead – on a chilly Halloween night. Add more aji amarillo if you’re feeling devilish.


Papa a la Huancaína Soup

Serves 6

Aji amarillo peppers are orange-fleshed, medium-hot Peruvian chili peppers, which are prized for their unique fruitiness and imported from Peru. Aji means chili pepper and amarillo means yellow. Look for frozen aji amarillo chili peppers or jarred aji amarillo paste in Latin American grocery stores. Check my Grocery Store Directory to find a Latin American grocery store in your area.

Queso fresco is a Mexican fresh white cheese. You can find it in Latin American grocery stores and sometimes in regular grocery stores, such as Paul’s nofrills at Bristol Road and Creditview Road in Streetsville.


Local Dairy in Ingersoll, Ontario produces queso fresco under the LaVaquita brand name (photo not shown), using authentic Latin American recipes and techniques. It is made from fresh milk that is delivered daily from local farms in the Oxford County area. The nearest store where we can find LaVaquita Queso Fresco regularly is the Sobey’s on Queensway, beside the Ontario Food Terminal. Local Dairy also produces other Latin American dairy products (Queso Oaxaca, Queso Duro, Queso Chihuahua, and Crema, all under the LaVaquita name) and Indian dairy products. I was lucky enough to sample their delicious cheeses and dairy products recently, at the Delicious Food Show. I hope we will find Local Dairy products in our neighborhood stores in the future. Next time I am in my local grocery store, I’m going to ask if they can bring in Local Dairy products.


2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 cup finely chopped yellow onion (1 medium onion)

4 yellow aji amarillo chili peppers, defrosted (or 1/2 cup jarred aji amarillo paste)

6 medium yellow-fleshed potatoes, chopped

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1 teaspoon coarse salt

4 garlic cloves, finely minced

4 cups water

3 cups grated queso fresco (Mexican fresh white cheese)

1 (370 ml) can fat-free evaporated skim milk or 2%

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1 lime, cut into sixths

Garnishes: chopped pitted sun-dried black olives, chopped avocado, chopped fresh cilantro


  1. If using whole aji amarillo peppers, seed and devein them; roughly chop.
  2. In a large heavy saucepan, heat oil over medium-low heat. Add onions, potatoes, and chopped peppers (if using aji amarillo paste instead of frozen peppers, don’t add it yet); season with thyme and 1 teaspoon coarse salt. Sauté until onions are softened, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add garlic; sauté for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
  4. Add water (and aji amarillo paste if using in place of the peppers); bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer until potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Remove from heat; let cool slightly. Carefully transfer soup to the large bowl of a food processor; add cheese and then process until smooth.
  6. Return soup to pot. Add evaporated milk.
  7. Bring soup to a boil over medium heat, stirring frequently. Reduce heat to low and simmer gently, stirring occasionally, until cheese has melted a bit. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot with lime wedges and garnishes.

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Latin Love Affair: Olive’s Shrimp Tacos

Move over beef tacos, there’s a new dish in town. My Shrimp Tacos are easy, healthy, and packed with refreshing flavour. Succulent pre-cooked shrimp are briefly marinated in cilantro, mint, lime, garlic, aji amarillo paste, sugar, and salt – a mouthwatering melody of sweet, sour, spicy, and salty. Served in a soft tortilla spread with avocado purée and a lick of lime juice, they are everything I want in a shrimp taco. My son named them his new favourite food. Olive to make my son happy!


Aji amarillo paste is a simple blend of orange-fleshed, medium-hot Peruvian chili peppers, which are prized for their unique fruitiness. Aji means chili pepper and amarillo means yellow. Although very common in Peruvian cooking, aji amarillo peppers can be hard to find here. I was thrilled to find aji amarillo paste (sold in jars)


and the much sought-after, frozen, whole aji amarillo peppers (imported from Peru) in Latin Super Chicken Rotisserie – a little Latin American grocery store that also sells Peruvian-style rotisserie chicken, located at the corner of Queen and Britannia, in Streetsville. I confirmed by phone that the stores Rincon de Espana in Port Credit and El Tropical in Oakville also carry aji amarillo paste.


Olive’s Shrimp Tacos

Serves 3 to 4

If you can’t find aji amarillo paste, Tabasco sauce is an adequate substitute for this recipe.

Marinade Ingredients:

1 lime

1 tablespoon roughly chopped fresh mint leaves

1/3 cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro leaves

1 large clove of garlic

1 teaspoon aji amarillo paste (Peruvian yellow hot pepper paste)

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon white sugar

1 tablespoon olive oil

Taco Ingredients:

454 g (1 lb.) frozen cooked, peeled shrimp 61/70

1 avocado

2 green onions, finely sliced

8 medium soft flour tortillas

1 lime, quartered

Optional garnish:

Extra coriander sprigs


  1. Defrost shrimp according to package directions; drain. Remove tail shells and discard. Place shrimp in a paper-towel-lined bowl, cover and chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour to drain well.
  2. Meanwhile, grate the lime zest into the bowl of a small food processor. Juice the lime and add to the zest; add remaining marinade ingredients and then process until well-blended.
  3. Pour out 1 tablespoon of marinade and set aside in fridge for later use with the avocado. Pour remaining marinade in a large, re-sealable Ziploc bag and seal. Refrigerate until 1 hour before eating.
  4. One hour before eating, place shrimp in marinade bag. Squeeze out the air and seal tightly. Massage the marinade into the shrimp until evenly coated. Place in the fridge and marinade for 1 hour.
  5. Just before serving, warm tortillas in the oven as per package instructions.
  6. Meanwhile, cut the avocado in half and remove the pit. Scoop the flesh into a medium bowl. Using a fork, mash the avocado into a purée. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon reserved marinade and stir thoroughly. Spread ⅛th of the avocado puree on one half of each tortilla.
  7. Dump marinated shrimp into a colander set in the sink and drain briefly. Place about ⅛th of the shrimp on top of the avocado puree. Sprinkle with green onions and fresh coriander sprig, if desired. Fold other half of tortilla over.
  8. Serve with immediately with lime wedges.

You can find aji amarillo paste at:

Latin Super Chicken Rotisserie
17 Queen Street North A5,
Mississauga, ON
L5N 6A1
Telephone: 905-369-0420
Open Tuesdays to Saturdays from  11:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. & Sundays from 12:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.


El Tropical
391 Kerr Street,
Oakville, ON
L6K 3B9
Telephone: 905-845-9262

Rincon De Espana Inc.
550 Lakeshore Road East
Mississauga, ON
L5G 1J3
Telephone: 905-274-2109

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Eat Like a Bird: Cheery Chia Seeds….cha cha cha!

Here is a charming hostess gift idea that won’t break the bank and will make your hostess feel especially loved:

Chia Seeds

a cheery jar tied with a pretty ribbon and filled to the brim with healthy chia seeds. Insert a tiny serving spoon in the jar to make it easy for your host(ess) to sprinkle these tiny, South American superseeds over everything possible – fruit, yogurt, oatmeal, soup, or green salad are my favourite choices.

Chia Seeds with spoon

My friend surprised me with this jar and olive it! It is pretty enough to leave out on my table, as a reminder to sprinkle a few seeds on whatever I am eating.

My friend claims these seeds help you feel fuller and I think she is right! My trainer, Joanne, encourages me to eat like a bird: smaller portions more frequently, including plenty of super healthy chia seeds. Joanne says the white seeds might be the best choice because they don’t show up as much on your teeth. Olive chia seeds because they are tiny and tasteless; all you will notice in your food is a pleasant, light crunch.

Wouldn’t it be a great idea to put a jar of these in a pretty basket, along with a pint of wild Ontario blueberries, some granola, and a jar of maple syrup then present the basket to the hostess of whatever cottage you are lucky enough to be visiting?

Chia seeds are widely available in grocery stores and health food stores. So get your cha cha heels on and go on out and get yourself some chia seeds.

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